We went along to the St Albans Museum + Gallery to see the latest exhibition Barbara Hepworth: artist in society 1948-53. Entry to the exhibition is free, although donations are welcome. We picked up the Family Trail sheet from the information desk at the entrance to the museum and ventured down to the Weston Gallery.
So why is this exhibition in St Albans? Between 1948 and 1953, a connection between Hepworth and Hertfordshire was formed through a number of sculptural purchases and commissions. Three Hepworth sculptures were acquired to display in Hertfordshire schools and colleges: Turning Forms, Eocene and Vertical Forms. Turning Forms is on permanent display at Marlborough Science Academy in St Albans and Eocene and Vertical Forms can currently be seen at St Albans Museum + Gallery as part of the Hepworth exhibition. Hepworth’s Eocene was purchased in 1950 and is usually displayed at St Albans Girls’ School. Vertical Forms was commissioned in 1951 for Hatfield Technical College (now the University of Hertfordshire). Barbara Hepworth: artist in society 1948-53 brings together sculptures that have a local significance, as well as other works which were created during this important period in Hepworth’s career.
The exhibition is very atmospheric, carefully lit to highlight the sculptures and the Family Trail encourages you to focus on the forms and look at the materials used. In one corner of the exhibition hall there is a low table where we picked up a clipboard and a pencil so that we could tick off each sculpture as we went along. If you’re going to take your own materials to sketch or draw, then be aware that only lead pencil is allowed in the gallery.
It is very difficult to choose a favourite piece from this exhibition but one of my highlights has to be The Unknown Political Prisoner (Maquette) which consists of three figures which are not usually seen together as two are owned by the Tate Gallery and the third is owned by a private collector.
The space provided within the exhibition to Read, Explore & Draw is a fantastic idea and makes the exhibition even more accessible to a younger audience. There are tactile resources in drawers next to a low table and you can use the resources to create your own sculptures.
Big Clay Event
There are family friendly events which compliment the exhibition coming soon including Hands On With Hepworth drop-in sessions on 10th April, 17th April, 31st May, 8th August and 21st August 2019 (£2 per child) and don’t miss the Big Clay Event on Saturday 13th April 2019, when you can drop-in and join Dacorum and Chiltern Potters Guild for a messy making day! You’ll have the opportunity to work with experienced potters and help sculpt famous St Albans buildings such as the Clock Tower and the old Town Hall in clay. Expert potters will demonstrate a range of techniques including throwing on a wheel and Matthew Wilcock, winner of the first Great Pottery Throw Down, will also be coming along to the event.
Taking young children to exhibitions and galleries is always a challenge and there are sculptures at Barbara Hepworth: artist in society 1948-53 which are displayed in the open, so we had to be careful, but we all really enjoyed the exhibition and because it is free we can go again and again.
Top Tips For A Visit to Barbara Hepworth: artist in society 1948-53
- St Albans Museum + Gallery is open 7 days a week 10am-5pm Monday to Saturday and 11am-5pm Sundays.
- Barbara Hepworth: artist in society 1948-53 will be on display at St Albans Museum + Gallery until 8th September 2019. Entry is free.
- Make sure that you stay for a drink and a bite to eat at the museum café and sit in the unique setting of the historic courtroom.
- For more information about the exhibition and related activities visit the St Albans Museum + Gallery website.
All photography is owned by Kirsty Hornblow 2019. Please do not reproduce without permission.